False narrative of post-Zionism
It has always been an enigma to me how Israel's post-Zionist camp gets away with its intellectual sleight-of-mind.
Post-Zionism "deconstructs" – or in plain language undermines – the accepted definitions for concepts such as Eretz Israel, the meaning of Jewish history and the Holocaust, nationalism, boundaries, and statehood.
In so doing, it deconstructs Israel's security and future.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Baruch Kimmerling, a professor of sociology and author of Politicide: Ariel Sharon's War against the Palestinians, is a leading icon of post-Zionism. On December 6, Kimmerling published an essay on salon.com entitled "The two catastrophes."
It's a classic work of post-Zionist obfuscation. Here's the gist of Kimmerling's argument: "Israelis and Palestinians have both been marked by inconceivable tragedy. For both sides, understanding the other's memories is the first step toward moving beyond the past."
And with that, we enter the la la land of post-Zionist fatuous equivalency. Kimmerling tells his readers that "In 1948, the Jews carried out ethnic cleansing," later explaining that this "ethnic cleansing of Arabs must be seen within the context of the Holocaust."
Kimmerling says he is tempted to place "catastrophe versus opposite catastrophe, in order to 'balance' the situation" but "refrained from telling a counter-narrative because I felt that al-Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948, is incommensurable with the Holocaust, except at one point."
Well, thank you very much.
In so much as raising this suggestion, Kimmerling is playing loose with the historical facts. The rest of his unauthentic, disingenuous narrative seems intended to obscure the plain truth.
Kimmerling next turns to the Bible: "Some Jews point to their biblical roots in the Holy Land as giving them a greater right to live there than the Palestinians.
"But to make that argument one has to go back 2,000 years in time. And in that case why should not the Palestinians go back a mere 57 years? The Zionist demand to restore the situation that allegedly existed 2,000 years ago supports the Palestinian demand that the situation be restored to what it was only a generation ago.
"This whole strange game of 'who preceded whom' is an absurdity."
LET'S UNLINK the two narratives – Kimmerling's distorted version from the actual course of events.
Yes, there was ethnic cleansing, but it was pursued first by the Arabs. During the British Mandate for Palestine, and starting in March 1920, Arabs expelled Jews from Tel Hai and in 1921 tried to oust the Jewish community from Petah Tikva, then a 40 year-old settlement.
In August 1929, they succeeded, through a brutal three-week pogrom of cleansing Hebron, Nablus, and Gaza of its Jewish population.
These communities had histories going back centuries.
Other communities were to be razed later.
In Israel's 1948 War of Independence, Jews of Bet Ha'arava, Kfar Darom, Neveh Yaakov, Atarot, and the Old City of Jerusalem were all "cleansed" from their homes.
But more basically, throughout that pre-state period, Arabs opposed any right of domicile whatsoever for Jews anywhere in Mandate territory. Meaning, from the Arab viewpoint, there could be no Jews between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
As an interim measure, Arab leaders constantly pressed the British authorities to restrict – and eventually depopulate – the country of Jews.
That pernicious attitude continues today, though it is ignored by proponents of post-Zionism.
Yes, there is a Holocaust connection to the Arab-Israel conflict. It is the too-often overlooked influence the Arabs of Palestine had on British colonial policy. This influence dovetailed with Hitler's horrific intentions.
Indeed, Arab violence, both urban and rural, beginning in 1933 and accelerating with Sheikh Izzaddin Kassam's raids in 1935 and continuing throughout 1936-1939, was a main factor in causing the British to close the gates of Palestine to Jewish immigrants from Europe.
Palestine Arabs, supported by the weapons and irregular forces of neighboring Arab countries, effectively allowed Hitler to catch as many as Six Million Jews in his net. Had the gates of Palestine been open, thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, could have found safe haven in the Land of Israel.
It was, in the main, Arab terror that pressured the British into formulating the White Paper of 1939, which limited land purchases and prevented entry to Jews fleeing persecution.
British archives, as historian Bernard Wasserstein revealed in Britain and the Jews of Europe, are full of documents showing how colonial officials thwarted attempts to get refugees out of Nazi clutches due to Arab pressure.
Plainly, the destruction of European Jewry could not have been as accomplished as it was without an Arab helping hand.
Palestinian Arabs cannot escape their culpability, and post-Zionist academics must not be permitted to obscure the harsh realities of history.
Moreover, Kimmerling overlooks the participation of the leader of Palestine's Arabs, the mufti of Jerusalem, Amin El-Husseini, in his Holocaust narrative. Sitting in Berlin, the mufti broadcast pro-Nazi propaganda to the Arab world; he helped mobilize Muslim units to fight alongside the SS; he encouraged Arab agents to parachute into Mandate territories to poison the water.
The mufti called on Hitler to "accord to Palestine the right to solve the problem of the Jewish elements by the same method, that the question is now being settled in the Axis countries."
Kimmerling and too many other post-Zionists promote the false idea that Israel was founded upon the ruins of an Arab society and culture.
The truth is just the other way around.
The writer comments on political, cultural, and media issues.